Photography Interview: Erica Coburn


Erica Coburn is an 18-year-old photographer from Dublin who is definitely a star in the making. Despite her young age, Erica has already had her photographs featured in a number of publications and websites including, been runner up in the Irish Amateur Photographer of the year and was selected to take part in Joseph-Gordon Levitt’s “hitRECord” photography project. Something You Said’s 25ThC caught up with her to find out more:

Can you remember the first photo you ever took and what the subject was?
I think the first photo I ever took was a picture of my new Barbie tricycle that I had gotten for Christmas when I was a child with a Barbie camera! (I really liked Barbies).

How long have you been a photographer, who first introduced you to photography and where are you at with your studies?
I have been taking photos for about two-and-a-half years now. I was almost 17 when I found out how much I loved photography, I had just been given a small DSLR by my Uncle and I started asking friends in school to model for me at the weekends. I still had two years left of secondary school at this stage, and the more often I took pictures the harder it was to juggle photography and school, but I managed to get through it! I finished school in June this year and now I’m studying photography in IADT in Dublin, Ireland.

What equipment do you always have in your camera bag and why?
I always have my camera anyway (Canon 5D mark ii), my 85mm f/1.8, my recently acquired 50mm f/1.4, a Nikon FM2 analogue camera, some film, a reflector, my cards etc., and lens hoods for when I’m shooting on a really bright sunny day! I love backlighting my subjects and a lens hood is key

If money was no object what equipment would you most like to own and why?
If only it wasn’t an object! I think I’d upgrade to the 5D mark iii for starters, mainly for the reduced noise at higher ISO’s like 3200, 6400 etc., I’d get an 85mm f/1.2L, the 35mm f/1.4L, and the 135mm f/2L, and basically the list goes on forever, there’s always something I’m saving money for!

You recently travelled to Austria for a photoshoot where you stayed in a house with other photographers that you had never met before. How did that come about and what was the result of such an interesting experience?
I think that week was definitely one of the best weeks of my life so far. I’ve met a lot of other photographers through websites like flickr and facebook, and I don’t what it is with photographers around the world but everyone is so willing to help each other and make friends and travel, so I got talking to a few European photographers and they were organizing a big meet-up that I was lucky enough to get involved in.

It was daunting to fly to another country to meet people I had never met before but I was more excited than frightened. We stayed in a beautiful house in Heiligenblut in the Austrian Alps, the ideal location for photos! We hiked through forests, climbed waterfalls, brought fog machines up the sides of mountains and had campfires and drank wine. It was incredible, and I’ve made some lifelong friends.

You were also fortunate enough to be one of 50 photographers collaborating with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s company hitRECord. How did it feel being selected for such a prestigious event and how did you go about preparing for it?
I remember I was so shocked to get an email saying they wanted to send me this camera and take photos for their book and ad campaign, I thought it must have been some spam email at first, so I warily replied with my postal details and it turned out to be legit! The theme of the project was ‘Patterns’, so I borrowed my Dad’s projector and played around with it. The photo they ended up choosing for the campaign will be up on my facebook and flickr etc. soon so keep an eye out for it!

Erica 3

Image creation these days is as much about taking a photo and then post processing. How long do you spend in post processing, what software do you use and why?
I spend a LOT of time in post processing. Recently I got into a big editing rut and I would sit in front of photoshop (CS6) for hours and not be happy with anything I edited. There are so many different ways to edit a photo and it can be so frustrating trying to choose which direction to go, or whether an image is over done or under done. I think I’m coming out of that rut now, I had so many shoots to edit that I had to just get over it and pick a direction to go in!

I personally use 35mm film and cross processing to create my images. What is your view on the current state of film photography and do you think it is something you will use as part of your portfolio in the future?
Since I started studying photography, I’ve had to learn how to shoot and process my own film, so yes, it’s definitely something I want to learn a lot more about. From my experience of film photography so far I absolutely love it, there’s nothing like that feeling when your negatives come out they way you want them to, or you see your image appearing on the paper when you’re printing!

Erica 4Do you have any plans to move into videos or film in the future?
Definitely, after watching Anastasia Volkova’s (one of my favourite photographers) videos on Vimeo, I have always wanted to give videos a try. I’d like to try making a music video or a fashion video someday soon, it’s just a matter of finding the time to experiment and learn how to edit them.

For any budding photographers out there what advice do you have in terms of what camera to buy first and what subjects to shoot?
I would say at first to go for a camera that is not too high-end (because money is unfortunately an object), but has all the capability of going fully manual so you can learn exactly how a camera works, and how shutter speed, aperture, and ISO can affect your photos.

I’d also advise them to experiment with a big range of subjects until you find your muse, or what really love to/are good at photographing.

You can see more of Erica’s photographs at her Facebook and Flickr pages.



Interview by 25ThC